Home > philosophy > NHK Cool Japan TV show

NHK Cool Japan TV show

February 24, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Click HERE for today’s photos.

I have a friend who works for NHK producing television programs, and in a classic case of life being all about who you know and not what you know, I was recently asked to be on an NHK television program.  

Called Cool Japan, it is a program that explores what, from a foreigners perspective,  makes Japan cool.  It touches on a wide variety of subjects;  fashion, anime, alcohol, etc., as well as other cultural aspects of Japanese society.

The particular episode that I took part in looked into the aspect of “Mottainai” culture in Japan.  It will air at the following times:

  • March 18th (Wed) 19:00-19:44 on NHK BS Hi-vision
  • March 29th (Sun) 0:10-0:54 on NHK BS-1

It was my first time in a television studio, and I’m glad I was able to absorb the experience.  It was also a lo of fun.  At first I thought I would be a little bit nervous, but I guess I am too old to get nervous about things like that anymore.

Most of today’s photos are from Kamakura, and if all goes as planned when you click on the “map this” button within Smugmug you will see a map showing the location where each photo was taken.  More GPS madness. 🙂

While I was shooting photos I could not help but notice that of all the other photographers at each of the locations I was stopping at, they all seemed to be shooting the same scenes, usually from the very same vantage point.

It got me thinking about how we all usually see the world.

What I mean by this is that in our haste to digest and understand the world around us with the least amount of effort, we usually rely on those around us to provide clues.  I think this is where a lot of prejudice and bias stems from.  After all, its a lot less mentally taxing to take what someone else says at face value, rather than cogitate on your own and seek your own truths about the world.

And I’m not saying that is all bad.  I can’t image trying to get through event the most mundane of days if I were to have to think everything through on my own, just to make sure I understood what was going on., and that I was doing it in the best manner.  Taken to this extreme, even a simple trip to the local combini could end up being a sojourn of epic proportions: What route should I take, and why?  What is the most effective mode of transport, and what on earth should I buy once I get there?  The choice of say, potato chips alone could cause one to spend eons weighing the merits of one brand versus the other, and lets not even mention serving sizes!

So what am I really blathering about here?

I’m nowhere near arrogant enough to think that I am immune to falling into this trap. But the great thing is that when I am aware of this danger, I do find that I take better pictures.  And, I also happen to enjoy the world around me a bit more when I see it through less filtered eyes.  

It’s kind of like what I was talking with some of the other people that were on the Cool Japan show with me; when you go to a place for the first time (like when I first came to Japan) there are no bounds.  It feels like anything is possible, and you never know what the next day will bring you.  

I think this is what usually makes travel so exciting, it’s the thought that something new could happen.

But invariably, the longer you are in one place, the more artificial bounds you place upon your own existence.  And while these bounds can serve a very useful purpose, and allow you to make a lot of assumptions so as to more smoothly  operate, they also invariably rob you of some of that mystery and wonder that even the most ordinary of circumstances can hold.

Yes, the tightest, most secure prisons are the ones we build for ourselves.

That is why it is so important to remember to not take anything for granted.  Not one single moment of the time we are given will ever come again.   Moments rush towards us and then are gone  in a  flash, never to repeat.

So make the most of it by slowing down to really observe what is going on around you.  Stop just looking at things; categorizing, tagging, and blindly rushing through life with too many preconceived notions.

It’s amazing what you will find if you instead take the time to really “see”.

I hope I am able to do this more than I currently manage.  Life itself is just too interesting and varied for me to want it any other way.

Categories: philosophy Tags: , , ,
  1. David
    February 24, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    Thank you for your thoughts. Too many times life becomes mundane and we miss what is special about just being alive. Also, would you be able to post the show here or on utube so all of your fans could see it.

  2. February 24, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    Yo Jeff!
    You are totally right here! I can completely relate to what you are saying.
    I dislike to follow others around, as I don’t really like the idea, and prefer some originality. Your point applies to about all I know. For example, I do not follow fashion at all. My brother commented on that, but honestly, I don’t care what;’s fashionable. Most stuff I wear is timeless anyway. On teh other hand, when dressing similar to others that follow the current fashion, you can relate to people, and that opens up discussion points, and may even make you feel a little more at home.
    In England I experienced many of such moments. Finding the quickest route: you learn from others initially, but then under certain circumstances you experiment, which could lead to utter failure, or a new, more efficient route.
    But also teh queueing thing in england: Queueing happens everywhere, which can be both good and bad. Bad is that everyone follows each other (the brits are good at not thinking for themeselves). teh good thing is that in some cases, like shops, there is an honest approach to who comes first!
    For photography, well, it’s people’s photos that teach me new points of view. As you know you have been my number one example for photography style, and when my previous gf comemnted that my pics look very similar is style to yours, I couldn’t get a better compliment! But like most photographers, I also like to learn new stuff. recently a friend of mine did some portrait/studio photography. Something I would not quickly do myself. but seeing his results and being presented with an opportunity to do so myself, changed that state of mind.
    I guess you couyld summarise it as a learning process. Something we do every day.
    However, one point i think you don’t need to worry about, when you pick your route to the next location, it can seem a trip of epic proportions when you analyse every move and action CONSCIOUSLY, in reality most of these acrtions we do UNCONSCIOUSLY, making our trip les sof an ordeal….

    Nice topic Jeff, gives something to philosophise about… ^_^

  3. Jenn
    February 24, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    Oh! I’ll watch for you!

    I had thought the program featured people who had only been in Japan for 6 months or less. But TV is like that, I guess. Looking forward to seeing/hearing your perspective!

  4. Pachipro
    February 24, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Congratulations! Now you’re a TV star!. Hope it does well and that it will be available for viewing somewhere on the net.!

  5. Andy
    February 24, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    Yes, congratulation with the NHK broadcast!
    Once its air’s, is there anyway you may be able to post it up on sushicam?

  6. J.
    February 28, 2009 at 5:14 am

    hmmm, unfortunately do I not have those channels on my TV, so I won’t be able to see it. Unless somebody posts it on youtube afterward…
    By the way, do you spell your name as “raitara” (ライタラ) in Japanese? That is what I saw on the photo of the name badge. I would have thought it to be spelled as raitira (ライティラ). To me that would seem closer to the original version.

  7. Joe
    March 1, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    I actually get the NHK World channel in Hong Kong so I am going to try to catch that show. 🙂
    They usually have the same group of guests on multiple times, does that mean you will keep going back to be a guest?

  8. 2yen
    April 8, 2009 at 10:15 am


    yes, I will likely be doing it again.

  9. Nicole
    April 13, 2009 at 3:46 am

    Where do you go to be a guest on the show? Or just be a part of it in general?

  10. michael liu
    July 27, 2009 at 5:48 am

    I would like to show someone in your organisation a couple of documentaries I have finished. these are based on our Australian reptiles and black Cockatoos.

    who could I speak to/ email?


    michael liu

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